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19.06.14

Welsh council mergers offer no ‘silver bullet’ – WLGA

Welsh councils that want to merge voluntarily will have their first elections a year later in a bid to avoid “uncertainty”, the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) conference in Llandudno has been told.

Speaking to delegates, local government minister Lesley Griffiths stated that there needs to be “much more than a cosmetic redrawing of the map” and potential mergers should lead to “profound changes” in the way councils work.

In January, the Williams Commission recommended that the 22 councils in Wales should be reduced to between 10 and 12. It stated that fewer, but larger local authorities would be able to deliver services more efficiently.

However, the WLGA has warned that merging councils won't solve problems caused by what they estimate is a £2.6bn budget shortfall facing Wales’ public services as a whole.

They claim that there's a “growing misperception” that reorganisation offers a “silver bullet”.

Cllr Bob Wellington, leader of the WLGA, said: “The pressures being placed on Wales’ public services are significant and complex, and any future reform of how these services are delivered must be based on a consideration of the public sector as a whole rather than a ‘paint it by numbers’ approach to council boundaries.

“We acknowledge that local government itself must change, but the reform process should be based on a true consideration of the functions and role that local councils should fulfil rather than the structures that are required to support this.”

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